National Cyber Security Centre
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New-look CyberFirst Girls Competition goes regional

The introduction of regional semi-finals give girls the opportunity to test their cyber skills against those of local rivals for the first time.

Delighted CyberFirst girls competition finalists in Edinburgh

  • NCSC’s CyberFirst Girls’ Competition will feature regional heats for first time
  • New format aims to tap into potential of girls from every region across the country
  • Competition registration opens on 2 December 2019 

Schoolgirls will be able to test their cyber skills against those of local rivals for the first time thanks to the introduction of regional semi-finals in a flagship National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) competition.

The CyberFirst Girls’ Competition is the NCSC’s free to enter contest in which the girls are invited to form teams and take on a series of online puzzles and challenges related to cyber security.

The NCSC, which is a part of GCHQ, launched the competition in 2017 with the aim of developing the next generation of cyber security professionals and encouraging more women in particular to consider a future career in the industry. So far more than 24,000 girls have taken part.

Previously, the girls competed in an online round before the top ten teams met in the final. For the 2020 competition, the opening round will be followed by semi-final heats taking place simultaneously from Scotland to the South West, with each regional winner meeting in the final.

Registration for the 2020 competition opens in less than 50 days’ time, and it is hoped that the new regional focus will tap into even more of the country’s potential female cyber security talent.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Growth, yesterday said:

“The CyberFirst Girls Competition is a great introduction for young women to cyber security, and since its launch it has gone from strength to strength.

“While the competition continues to grow in popularity, we want to make sure we’re drawing on talent from all parts of the UK, and the introduction of regional semi-finals will help us do that.

“I hope this new format will encourage more schools than ever to get involved, and to help us build the diverse workforce so crucial to the nation’s future cyber security.”

Registration for the 2020 CyberFirst Girls Competition opens on Monday 2 December and is open to girls from Year 8 (England and Wales), Year 9 (Northern Ireland) and S2 (Scotland).

The highest scoring teams from the opening round will go through to the semi-finals, taking place on 8 February in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, North of England, Midlands, South West, South East and London, with the final on 15 and 16 March in Wales.

Last year 12,000 pupils took part in the competition, which tested their skills on topics from logic and cryptography to networking and online safety. Of the girls who took part last year, 98% said they would like to learn more about cyber security.

After an online round of codebreaking challenges, the top ten schools faced each other at a grand final in Edinburgh where they were given a true-life scenario where a company hosting a social media app aimed at young adults had a data breach.

The Royal Masonic School for Girls, from Hertfordshire, were crowned champions for 2019.

More details on the Girls Competition.


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